Surprising Ways to Get Rid of Bugs at your Next Outdoor Party

Last week I tackled the question of whether or not yellow bug lights actually work to reduce the swarms of insects you usually see around a light. If you haven’t read it yet, here’s the cliff notes: Yes, they do. But you’re going to need more in your arsenal.

How to Deter Those Pesky Pests

I’m one of those lucky few that seem to attract every mosquito within a 5 mile radius (my Daddy used to say it was because I was ‘so sweet’ :-) ). There are a handful of methods that have always been my first plan of attack: Citronella candles, dousing myself with insect body spray, and even employing the use of wonderfully entertaining bug zappers. But I’ve recently learned that there are some highly effective, though less-common methods of bug-banishment that many people swear by:

Bring out the Big Guns

Unleash your inner Clint Eastwood with this salt-laden bug obliterator. The Bug-a-Salt fires a lethal grade of table salt to destroy its winged victims.

Bug-a-Salt sprayer

Did You Know? Opt for LED light bulbs in your outdoor fixtures. Insects are attracted to high levels of ultraviolet light. Though any light will attract some bugs, LED’s emit almost no UV light, so they don’t attract as many insects as a regular bulb would. Incandescent & CFL ‘bug lights’ also attract less insects by using yellow bulbs to change the color temperature that bugs can see. (Read more in Bug Lights: Do They Work?)
A glass sphere that deters flies.
via Design Milk

Reflective Water Reservoirs

Urban food markets in Mexico often use plastic bags full of water to deter flies. The lights and shadows refracted from the water confuses the flies and scares them away.  In this post, Design Milk showcases a way to implement these eco-friendly repellents in true designer fashion.

TIP  For an affordable take on this decorative repellent, DIY your own hanging sphere by repurposing an old light bulb to use as a water reservoir. Some sites even suggest adding pennies to the water for more reflection.

Dryer Sheets

Aside from cleaning baseboards and toilet seats (thank you, Pinterest!) dryer sheets with fabric softener also repel bees. Putting a few in your pocket or taping them under the picnic table deters bees from your barbecue.

Go Heavy on the Garlic

Apparently Count Dracula isn’t the only blood-sucker that has a distaste for garlic. Spraying a mixture of garlic powder & water on your plants and lawn will send mosquitos elsewhere (and as a bonus, it also repels any lurking vampires). Interestingly, so does its counter-measure when sprayed on the body: Listerine.

DIY Mason Jar Luminaries with Rosemary, Lemon and Lime
DIY Bug Repellent Mason Jar Luminaries via A Little Clarification

Vanilla, Basil and Mint Cups

It sounds like a new gourmet ice-cream flavor more than a fly deterrent, but Fresh Eggs Daily says this sweet little combo will thwart flies extremely well. Another flavor-filled insect repellent is a mixture of Lemon, Lime and Rosemary. This Pinner floated candles on top of the mixture and turned them into luminaries!

 Get them Drunk

(The bugs, not your guests.) I’m not sure how it actually works, but apparently insects don’t like vodka. Combine it with vinegar and an essential oil like lavender to mask the smell and spray away!


How About You? Do you have any tried-and-true insect deterrents that you recommend? Comment below!

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bug lights, do they work

Bug Lights – Do They Work?

IMG_5970-new
An outdoor barbecue is going to lure insects into your yard. Aside from eating your hamburger in a dark void, there’s not much you can do that will totally eradicate all insects from your lawn, but will using bug lights help?

The smoky aromas, good music and friendly laughter from your outdoor BBQ may have drawn the neighbors in, but chances are good that it also drew in a few unwanted guests. Mosquitos. Flies. Bees. They love the sweet lure of barbecue sauce, along with one of the necessary ingredients for an evening party — Light.

You may have seen yellow “bug lights” in your department store and wondered if they actually worked or if they were just another marketing gimmick.

The short answer is, while they aren’t going to make your lawn completely bug-free, they can effectively reduce the amount of frequent fliers.

But while most people agree that they do work, there are a lot of different ideas on the science behind why bug lights work.

Bug Zappers vs. Bug Lights

Bug Zapper Don’t confuse bug lights with bug zappers. Yellow bug lights won’t give you the same satisfying “POP!” that you get from a bug zapper (which is really just an electrified mesh wrapped around a light bulb as the “bait.”) In fact, the purpose of a bug light is not to kill the bug, but to keep it away altogether.

Why do bug lights work?

Insects are attracted to several things like smells, carbon dioxide …. and light. But here’s where it gets a little blurry. There seem to be several different theories as to why insects react to specific kinds of light. Some of the theories I turned up:

  • Bugs think white light is the moon and navigate towards it.
  • Bugs think yellow light is the sun and stay away.
  • Bugs can’t see yellow.
  • Bugs can’t see ultraviolet light.
  • And my personal favorite – The light blinds the bugs and they run into it.

Here’s what we do know: Certain color wavelengths, like red and yellow, are harder for some insects to see, so it’s reasonable to assume that the bugs just aren’t seeing the bug light. Most insects see ultraviolet and blue wavelengths clearer, which is why you see black lights used as lures in bug zappers.

Myth: Previously, it was thought that LED bulbs wouldn’t attract insects because they didn’t produce ultraviolet light. While it’s true that LEDs do seem to attract less bugs an incandescent bulb, you won’t be rid of them completely.

Conclusion

Whatever reason you subscribe to, yes, yellow bug lights do seem to help in the quest to cut down on flying insects. For the most successful bug-free zone however, you’re going to have to resort to several different methods. Next week, I’ll share some uncommon ways that I’ve learned to repel the grilling enthusiasts arch enemies: Mosquitos, Bees and Flies.

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Ultimate Garage Lighting, A Buyers Guide with Infographic

The Ultimate Guide to Garage Lighting [with Infographic]

A great garage lighting strategy requires a great garage layout. So how exactly do you achieve that? Whether your garage is your lair, your storage room, a place to park your car, or all three, we have some ideas that will help you define the space, along with lighting product suggestions for each one.

Expert organizers recommend that you think of your garage in terms of zones:

Divide the garage into zones for optimal organization
Source: EasyClosets, a division of the Stow Company
  1. Transition Zone
  2. Need it Now
  3. Long, Tall and Thin Storage
  4. Large Item Storage
  5. Frequently Used Items
  6. Workspace

The Best Lighting for the Garage

Once you’ve determined your zones, it’s time to start brightening the space up. Each area of the garage will have different lighting needs, and different products that fit them the best. Let’s take a look at each zone and your best lighting options for each one:

  • The Transition Zone (Zone 1) is located right outside the door leading into and out of your house from the garage. It may have a few steps up, with or without a handrail. For this area we recommend battery operated, motion activated lights around the entry door and steps with auto on/off features, so you aren’t fumbling for keys or tripping up the stairs while carrying in a load of groceries.
  • Need it Now (Zone 2) usually consists of cabinets or shelving and is where things are stored that you want easy access to on a daily basis – like dog food, or canned goods and paper products overflow. For garage cabinet and shelf lighting we recommend microfluorescent strip lights, especially when located inside deep garage cabinets, where items can easily get shoved far back into dark corners. Wireless motion sensor in-cabinet lights with adhesive backing can stick anywhere and don’t require an electrical outlet.

(more…)

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LED solar hanging planter basket for the garden.

This Solar Light May Have Turned Me into a Green Thumb

With the bounty of Spring upon us and Summer right around the corner, I decided to shine some light on a product that I’ve been itching to unbox: A hanging garden basket with ultra bright solar LEDs.

Just one problem…

I’m not much of a green thumb (truth be told, I’ve been known to kill a cactus) so I was a bit hesitant to – literally – put a spotlight on my inability to keep anything green alive.

What it Is
Solar LED hanging basket

  • A solar-powered LED light is suspended above a hanging garden basket.
  • Kit includes a solar panel, a coconut husk-lined basket, bracket and chains.
  • Automatic dusk-to-dawn solar light illuminates your plant.
  • Provides about 12 hours of warm white light when fully charged.
  • Currently priced at $49.00 (Note: The light is also available for purchase without the basket)

Where to Hang It

One of the features of solar lights is that they need to be positioned, well, in the sun. But the blazing hot Southern summers (and this non green-thumbed gal) can spell tragedy for plants. I’m much more likely to keep a shade loving plant alive. Thankfully, the remote solar panel can be installed up to 8 feet away from the planter which means I can hang my flowers in a shady area while positioning the panel in the sun for optimal charging.

Tips for Installing the Light

When you’re searching for the right place, make sure you have a nice sunny spot available within 8 feet of the basket to install the solar panel. For bright light throughout the evening, the panel should be exposed to direct sunlight for several hours a day. (more…)

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Battery powered camping lights

15 Gifts that Put Dad in the Spotlight on Father’s Day

This Father’s Day, get out of the tie and money clip routine with 15 bright gift ideas that shine a light on Dad’s favorite past times. Is your dad a grill master, an adventurer, an artist or a hardcore movie buff? Or is he one of those guys that has his own personal style that can’t be nailed down to just one? Whatever the case, chances are good that we’ve got a lighting gift to match his style:

1. The Grill Master

Battery operated grill light
Clip on Stainless Steel LED Battery Operated Grill Light

2. The English Professor

LED reading light with touch dimmer
Read in style with a 6-Watt Contemporary Reading Light with Touch Dimmer

3. The Gear-head

Motorcycle work light with flexible neck and 24 LEDs
Flexible LED worklight with 24 LEDs clamps onto the surface of his bike or car with a bendable neck.

(more…)

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Weekend Warrior Recessed Lighting Project, Part Two

Weekend Warrior Series: LED Retrofit Lighting, Part Two

During the course of May, our team celebrated National Home Remodeling month by doing some simple lighting projects around the house and sharing them with our readers. We called it our “Weekend Warrior” series because all of the projects can be completed in a weekend (or less!). 


 

Weekend Warrior Retrofit LED Lighting Project

Project Two – The 1-Hour Project

In my last post I shared how we installed recessed lighting in our bonus room. Once I installed the LED retrofits there, I was hooked on the quality and energy-efficiency of the lighting. I decided to change out our seven 75-watt PAR30 halogen recessed lights in our kitchen with seven LED retrofit modules. The 7 halogen recessed lights used 525 total watts of electricity. By switching to LED retrofit modules I would reduce that wattage use to 87.5 watts! HUGE energy savings! In addition to the LED retrofit modules, I also changed out my dimmer switch to a Lutron Maestro C-L dimmer.

This was one project I was able to very easily do myself. In fact, I finished this one in less than an hour. (more…)

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Weekend Warrior LED Recessed Lighting Project

Weekend Warrior Series: LED Retrofit Lighting, Part One

This is the fourth post in our Weekend Warrior blog post series, part of our quest to bring customers unique products and creative ideas for DIY lighting projects around the house. We previously covered how to install security lighting, a custom pantry lighting solution, and creating a kid’s book nook with a wall mounted reading light.


Weekend Warrior LED Recessed Lighting Project

Since moving into my home in 2009 I have completed a number of lighting projects. In fact, I started a New Home Project blog post series documenting them. I am happy to report that a couple of those posts helped others with their own under cabinet and over cabinet lighting projects.

It has been a couple of years, but recently I embarked on two new projects with one overriding theme — Saving money by adding and/or replacing existing lights with LED. The first project that I’d like to share is adding LED recessed lighting to our bonus room to add more general illumination to this room, and the second one switched out our halogen recessed lights to LED. In both projects I installed 6-inch LED retrofits.

Project One – The Weekend Project

My bonus room’s general illumination came only from the lighting on our ceiling fan. For the size of our bonus room this was woefully inadequate. So, jump forward 6 years and we are finally getting around to painting this room and making it more than a “holding area” for random stuff. We decided it was a good time to increase the light level in this room with four LED recessed lights in the 4 corners of the room.

Bonus room with overhead light
Before we installed recessed lighting in our bonus room, our ceiling fan was the only light in the room.

When our house was built in 2009 I used PAR30 halogen light bulbs in our recessed lighting. At the time LED recessed lighting was still a little pricey and there were not many options. Now times have changed. LED recessed lighting, specifically LED retrofits, have come down in price and there a number of options available. (more…)

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Using a reading light in a kid's book nook

Weekend Warrior Series: A Kid’s Cozy Book Nook

This is the latest project in the Weekend Warrior blog post series, part of our quest to bring our customers unique products and offer creative ideas for DIY lighting projects around the house. 


How to create a kid's cozy book nook with reading light

For my Weekend Warrior project, I took a boring, ho-hum playroom corner and created a cozy and private reading area for my 9-year-old son, Max.

Here’s the deal:

I think every kid needs a place to call his own. A place to curl up and read an adventure novel on a rainy day, or just a place to escape pesky brothers. A book nook.

After lots of intense discussion, Max and I decided that his book nook needed a few crucial ingredients to make it the coolest-place-ever:

  • A small, cozy area with a comfy place to sit
  • Tons of interesting books with lots of super-hero action
  • A plug-in nearby for charging his Kindle
  • A reading light so he can read under his many future sheet-forts
  • Some pictures or posters to hang on the wall

Now:

We’ve already got most of the necessary ingredients for the perfect reading nook: a bookshelf full of interesting books, a cozy corner in the sitting area off of his bedroom, and an overstuffed bean bag. All we lacked was a reading light and some wall art.

A Cozy Corner, Before the Book Nook
Corners and closets are prime real estate for a cozy book nook.

How I chose the best reading light for our nook:

(more…)

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Weekend Warrior | Pantry Lighting Project

Weekend Warrior: Installing a Battery Operated LED Pantry Light

When Pegasus Lighting’s President Chris Johnson heard that his neighbor Greg had installed such a unique solution to his dark pantry problem, he knew it was perfect for our Weekend Warrior blog post series. The Weekend Warrior series is part of our quest to bring our customers unique products and offer creative ideas for DIY lighting projects around the house.  


Weekend Warrior blog series | Pantry LIghting

Written by guest blogger Greg Prospero

For years my family has struggled to deal with an unlit kitchen pantry. It was dark and deep leaving its contents shrouded in spooky mystery. You might reach in for a box of Oreo cookies and come out with a bag of dried organic snap peas. To avoid these frustrating mix-ups we resorted to using our iPhone flashlights or a small battery powered LED puck light – neither of which delivered satisfactory illumination of the pantry contents.

This DIY will explain how you can bathe your entire pantry in bright and uniform LED light whenever you open the door. The build is simple and low cost. There are only a few parts and the lighting is powered by 8 AA batteries that should power your lights for more than 15 hours.

Weekend Warrior Pantry lighting project | Before and After (more…)

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WW-Netbright-social

Weekend Warrior: Installing NETBRIGHT™ Wireless Motion Sensor Networked Spotlights

Today begins our newest series: Weekend Warrior. It’s part of our quest to bring our customers unique products and offer creative ideas for DIY projects around the house. This week we’re tackling one of our most innovative new products: The NETBRIGHT™ Wireless Motion Sensor Networked Spotlights. 


Weekend Warrior | Security Lighting Project

The Problem – lack of security lighting for rear of home.
The DIY solution I chose – Mr. Beams Netbright Wireless Spotlights.

I recently moved to a part of North Carolina where many of the homes in the area are vacation homes that are vacant throughout much of the year. Unfortunately, during the off-season months break-ins are common and I thought it would be wise to install security lighting around the perimeter of my home.

Currently, we have a fantastic motion sensor floodlight that gradually increases its light level installed at the front of my home. I have gotten into the habit of making excuses to walk near it just because I think it’s so cool.

Front floodlight image
My front entrance with existing floodlight

The back entrance of my home … not so much… (more…)

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